After Luck, Stanford thin at quarterback position

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After Luck, Stanford thin at quarterback position

Aug. 16, 2011
STANFORD PAGE
NCAA POLLS
STANFORD (AP) -- Brett Nottingham and the rest of Stanford's backup quarterbacks figured out how to impress the coaching staff by the end of the first fall practice.All they had to do was mimic Andrew Luck."Because if you're following Andrew, you can't be doing anything wrong," Nottingham said, chuckling. "It's tough to follow him at any point and then ever be in trouble."Easier said than done.If anything were to sideline the Heisman Trophy favorite for more than a few snaps this season, the Cardinal would be in serious trouble. The other quarterbacks on the roster have attempted a combined two collegiate passes, and there's not a clear front-runner to become Luck's eventual successor.New coach David Shaw made it a point in his first team meeting to call out three key areas this year: offensive line, defensive line and backup quarterback. The latter has easily been his most difficult challenge."The hardest part is not trying to hold them up to Andrew's standard," Shaw said. "It's too high. We have to kind of take a deep breath when Andrew comes out and adjust our expectations."The three-man race to be Luck's backup is one of the most unsettled situations on a stacked Stanford team.Nottingham, a redshirt freshman, is competing for the job along with redshirt sophomores Josh Nunes and Robbie Picazo. Nunes' one pass for 7 yards is the only completion any of them have.Not that there wouldn't be a significant drop-off behind Luck.With so much of the offense revolving around Stanford's standout quarterback, the Cardinal are merely trying to close the gap between starter and backup. The goal is more to offset an in-game emergency than a season-ending injury, which would derail any championship hopes this season anyway."If Andrew breaks a shoelace, it could be in the middle of the fourth quarter in a must-win situation," Shaw said. "Whoever that guy is that steps in, he's got to have the confidence of the huddle and of the coaching staff."Right now, nobody other than Luck commands that attention.The three have all split time behind Luck after more than a week of training camp. Shaw doesn't expect to name a winner until the first week of the season, which begins at home against San Jose State on Sept. 3.For the players, the daunting task of replacing a quarterback that was the NFL draft's likely No. 1 pick can be a painful and frustrating one. It does, however, have its perks this season: the three backups all have a chance to learn from Luck in the film room, weight room and on the field."I might be annoying him a little bit with so many questions," Nottingham said. "I've been trying to pick his brain and find out what he does when no one is looking that makes him so successful."Of course, sometimes observing Luck so often only shows how much they have to improve."He's so technically sound, not just physically," Picazo said. "That's what makes him so good. Just being able to watch him on film and in person, watch his drops, watch his reads, watch how he affects safeties. Just watch it and do it however close to it as you can."Shaw isn't preaching patience with his backups, either.Although Luck is the most solid starter at his position in the country, the unthinkable is always one play away. Luck has spoken only kind words about his backups, saying all the things starting quarterbacks always do.Luck took out an NCAA insurance policy that could protect him for up to 5 million, and his family also bought private insurance that could cover him for millions more should an injury occur. Stanford is still searching for its own fallback plan.Even if it's hard to imagine cashing it in this season."We kind of view him as Superman. He seems like he's indestructible out there," Nottingham said. "But at the same time, you got to approach every day as if you're going to be the guy. You have to prepare, because if you get thrust into playing, you can't just be a deer in the headlights."

Giants lineup: Panik leading off in series opener vs Cubs

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AP

Giants lineup: Panik leading off in series opener vs Cubs

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for today's series opener in Chicago:

Giants (19-26)
1. Joe Panik (L) 2B
2. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Eduardo Nunez (R) LF
7. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Ty Blach (R) P (1-2, 4.15 ERA)

Cubs (22-20) 
1. Ben Zobrist (S) LF
2. Albert Almora Jr. (R) CF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Willson Contreras (R) C
6. Addison Russell (R) SS
7. Jason Heyward (L) RF
8. Javier Baez (R) 2B
9. John Lackey (R) P (4-3, 4.37 ERA)

Entering the NBA Finals 12-0 'would be irrelevant' to the Warriors

Entering the NBA Finals 12-0 'would be irrelevant' to the Warriors

SAN ANTONIO -- The Specter of 73 haunts the Warrior still and you can feel it in their dismissive, yes-but responses to being on the brink of yet another entry into the NBA record book.

Though they do not believe their pursuit and achievement last season of an NBA-record 73 wins sabotaged their chances for a championship, it is evident the Warriors came away with diminished appreciation of gaudy numbers.

They can add to their list of shiny accomplishments Monday night. A victory over the Spurs in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals would make the Warriors the first team ever to open the playoffs with three four-game sweeps and a 12-0 record.

“My wife asked me this morning: What if you guys win and you’re 12-0?” general manager Bob Myers told NBCBayAreaSports.com Monday afternoon. “Well, for me, the record thing kind of got screwed up last year.”

Yes, the record thing. The Warriors chased 73 and got 73 and yet they’ll be known just as much, if not more, as the first team to blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals.

“It’s all about 16,” Stephen Curry told NBCSportsBayArea.com.

Getting to 16 wins in the postseason means getting to the top. Winning it all. The very thing the Warriors did not accomplish a year ago.

They are one win away from being three-quarters of the way there.

“Going 12-0 sounds great,” Curry said. “But it probably would have happened if the Lakers would have played a seven-game series to start the run through the playoffs.”

The Lakers twice swept their first three postseason series -- in 1989 and 2001 -- but in both instances the first round was best-of-five. Both streaks ended at 11 in a row.

The Warriors seem to view numbers as decoration, ancillary components to the primary. They may have felt that way all along, but going through what they did last season, losing The Finals to the Cavaliers, provided an acute sense of context.

“It’s unfortunate that we put so much into the last game of the season, or winning the whole thing because there are a lot of things that we, as an organization, should be proud of no matter what happens,” Myers said. “But it’s hard, knowing where were last year, to see that regular-season record and then not win the championship. It’s a mixed feeling.

“So when you talk about records and numbers and things like that, and you know what it’s like to win a championship and you know what it’s like to lose, it’s hard to put them in proper perspective.”

The Warriors have made it clear they are less than impressed with their average victory margin of 16.5 points through the first 11 games in these playoffs. The record is 14.5, set by the Bucks in 1971.

They’re not buying into the hype generated by leading all playoff teams in points per game (117.4) and field-goal percentage (49.7) and field-goal percentage defense (41.6).

Numbers. Just numbers. Like, for example, 73.

“To know that we have a great regular-season record and a tiny little banner in our practice facility, “ Myers said, “it doesn’t feel like it should.

“I wouldn’t go as far as to say it doesn’t mean anything. But it’s hard to really understand what it means right now. And knowing that we’ve been in the midst of all these numbers and records and road-win records and things like that, you get lost in it in good and bad ways. It’s fantastic, but also what does it mean? Because what we’re really trying to do is win a championship.”

Which, of course, comes back to numbers.

“You can learn lessons in winning and you can learn lessons in losing,” Curry said. “It’s just a matter of how you respond from game to game. But 12-0 would be irrelevant come next series.”